Kymberly Pinder named Dean of Yale School of Art, first black person to lead school in 150-year history

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ONE OF THE NATION’s most prestigious art schools will be led by Kymberly Pinder. Yale University President Peter Slovey has announced that Pinder will be the next Dean of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation at the Yale School of Art. A former student of Yale, where she obtained her doctorate, Pinder is the first black person to be appointed dean since the school was founded over 150 years ago in 1869.

A professor, curator and academic leader, Pinder returns to Yale from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design (MassArt), where she is currently Interim President. Slovey announced his historic appointment in a message to the Yale University community on June 1. Her term as dean begins on July 1.


Kymberly Pinder, who received her doctorate from Yale, begins as dean of the Yale School of Art in New Haven, Connecticut on July 1. (In the background, a drawing by Jami Porter Lara). | Photo of Eve Caughey, courtesy of Yale

“Professor Pinder is widely known for her deep commitment to teaching, which is rooted in her belief that education is the key to social mobility and finding solutions to local and national challenges,” Slovey said. “By encouraging students to strive for excellence and nurture their artistic aspirations, she also teaches them to carefully examine every facet of society … I invite you to join me in congratulating Professor Pinder and welcoming him to the Yale community. “

Pinder told YaleNews that she looked forward to the “unparalleled” opportunity before her. “The Yale School of Art provides an unrivaled platform to promote excellence while effecting positive change. I look forward to working with colleagues and students across campus, city and the world to push the boundaries of artistic practice and education, ”she said.

“Objects and their crafting unlock and shape dialogue in some of the most transformative ways for creators and viewers. It is an honor to return to Yale to help nurture its rich culture of rigorous investigation. I am delighted to come full circle with my education at Yale.

THE PREVIOUS COVER on Pinder’s appointment highlighted that she is the first woman of color to be named Dean. These reports may come from a quote praising the hiring of Pinder provided to YaleNews by Marta Kuzma, the current dean since 2016 and the first woman to hold the position.

“I am delighted to hear that Dr Kymberly Pinder has been appointed as my successor. I am honored to entrust the office of the deanship to Dr Pinder, who will be the first woman of color to be appointed dean in the School’s 150-year history, ”said Kuzma. “Dr. Pinder’s experience as an academic and theorist, critically acclaimed for her writings on art and religion, history and race, as well as her demonstrated excellence as a leader and administrator at the within undergraduate and undergraduate visual art programs, is exactly what the Yale School of Art needs as master of fine arts programs across the country respond to the necessary change in the climate of the world. ‘future arts education.’

Pinder is indeed the first woman of color. Specifically, she succeeds a line of 12 elders who were all white males, most recently Robert Storr. Kuzma disrupted the legacy as the first wife. Pinder is the very first school leader to be a person of color, and she is the first black person.

“These are all pretty surprising and unfortunate, like first good in this century,” Pinder told Culture Type via email.

Previous coverage of Kymberly Pinder’s appointment highlighted that she is the first woman of color to be appointed Dean of the Yale School of Art. Pinder is the very first school leader to be a person of color, and she is the first black person.

PINDER IS AN internationally recognized scholar of race, representation, and religion in American art and mural history with nearly three decades of experience in higher education. She began serving as Acting President of MassArt in June 2020, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. She joined MassArt in Boston, Mass., As Senior Vice President and Vice President of Academic Affairs in 2019, a role in which she led the undergraduate and graduate university programs. She also oversaw the school’s Bakalar & Paine galleries and the inauguration of the MassArt Art Museum in February 2020.

In previous years, she served as Dean of the College of Fine Arts at the University of New Mexico from 2012 to 2018, responsible for the state’s largest fine arts program. Her tenure at UNM, including a stint as Acting Director and Curator of the UNM Art Museum, from 2014 to 2016. Previously, she established her academic career at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC). She began serving in the Faculty of Art History in 1996 and became Chair of the Department of Art History, Theory and Criticism of SAIC (2007-10).

During his career, Pinder retained his titles of commissioner. She co-organized with Karen Fiss (another Yale alumnus), “Necessary Force: Art of the Police State” (2015) at the University of New Mexico Museum of Art, a premonitory exploration confronting a subject that only became more urgent in the following years. She also hosted “Spreading the Gospel: Graffiti and the Public Space as Canvas” (2016) at UNM’s CFA Downtown Studio, a professional exhibition space that Pinder helped establish a collaboration with Albuquerque officials.

Its enduring influences are visible in classrooms and academic institutions and in the communities around them. Announcing his appointment, Slovey noted that the Pinder Fellowship has been widely adopted in art history programs nationwide and has encouraged new avenues of research in his field and his exhibitions on social issues. contemporaries have provided forums for community dialogue.

Working with a variety of artists and city officials, Pinder has taught classes that resulted in collaborative mural projects in Chicago and Albuquerque. She also helped introduce art classes in local public schools. In 2002, Pinder edited “Race-ing Art History: Critical Readings in Race and Art History,” a highly regarded volume that promoted multidisciplinary studies focused on the role of race in art.

Kymberly Pinder’s enduring influences are visible in classrooms and academic institutions and in the communities around them.

PINDER RECEIVED a Bachelor of Arts in Art History from Middlebury College in Vermont and went on to earn several degrees in Art History from Yale: Master of Arts, Master of Philosophy, and Doctor of Philosophy (1995). As a doctoral student, she lectured and published on European Gothic architecture, religious imagery, medievalism in North America, and women and African Americans in art. Under the mentorship of several professors, including Robert Farris Thompson, she also studied the formation and representation of American identity.

Some of the country’s most recognized artists have graduated from the Yale School of Art. Among them, many black artists active today have obtained MFAs from Yale, including Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Jordan Casteel, Dawoud Bey, Awol Erizku, Aaron Fowler, Genevieve Gaignard, Lauren Halsey, Titus Kaphar, Wangechi Mutu, Jennifer Packer, Christina Quarles, Martin Puryear, Tschabalala Self, Mickalene Thomas, Kehinde Wiley, and William T. Williams.

An 11-member advisory committee conducted the research that resulted in the selection of Pinder as dean. Martin Kersels, professor of sculpture and director of graduate studies at the School of Art, chaired the research committee. Members included Courtney J. Martin, director of the Yale Center for British Art; and artist Meleko Mokgosi, Associate Professor of Painting / Printmaking and Co-Director of Graduate Studies in Painting / Printmaking.

Given the challenges of the past year, Pinder emphasizes that today more than ever, it is essential that leaders are responsive and sensitive to the climate and the experiences of those for whom they are responsible.

“I think all of my past positions have paved the way for the job of dean at Yale – and more importantly, a black dean at the Yale School of Art,” Pinder told Culture Type. “Anyone joining a new organization this fall needs to focus on listening and healing. The effects of several pandemics, with so much disruption and loss, must be recognized and addressed so that we can clear space to move forward together. I know our students will come out this year through creation and I can’t wait for the school to provide them with everything they need to do so. CT

LEARN MORE about ‘Necessary Force: Art of the Police State’ in a short Q&A video with Kymberly Pinder and a reported review of the UNM exhibit

LEARN MORE Confirming to Culture Type that prior to Kymberly Pinder’s appointment, no person of color had ever been a dean of the School of Art, a Yale spokesperson noted that the first color dean of the ‘college was theater director Lloyd Richards (1919-2006), who was black and ran the drama school from 1979 to 1991

BOOKSHELF
Kymberly Pinder is the author of “Painting the Gospel: Black Public Art and Religion in Chicago”. She has also edited the influential volume “Race-ing Art History: Critical Essays in Race and Art History”. Pinder has also contributed to “Dox Thrash: An African-American Master Printmaker Rediscovered,” which is part of the Jacob Lawrence Series on American Artists from the University of Washington Press.

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